Facebook copy briefly surfaces in North Korea

June 1st, 2016 by Mark Daly in Industry News No Comments »

A clone of the Facebook social media site has briefly appeared in North Korea before quickly going offline.

Hosted on the address in North Korea it had many of the features of other social networks.

It is not clear who created StarCon but it is thought to be a test project for a future service to be offered by the nation’s telecoms operator.

Soon after being discovered, the site was hacked and it is now not accessible.

The site was spotted by Doug Madory, a researcher at network management firm Dyn, who said it was rare to see any websites hosted in the secretive nation. The site’s name suggested it was linked to North Korea’s Star telecom service, he said.

Parody account

StarCon was built around a commercial software package called phpDolphin and had many of the features, including newsfeeds, messaging systems and personal spaces, seen on other social sites. However, many of the site’s pages were unfinished and were filled with placeholder text.

“I don’t believe it was intended to be accessible from outside North Korea,” Mr Madory told the BBC.

However, he said, Dyn’s mention of StarCon on its Twitter feed led people to set up personal pages on the site and start using it to swap messages.

One of the first accounts created parodied North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Outsiders created about 300 accounts on StarCon during its brief existence.

“There were a lot of people signing up that, based on their comments, appeared to genuinely think they could reach the North Korean people through the website,” he said.

“I’m quite sure that no North Koreans ever really used it for a social network website despite the fact that it was hosted in North Korea.”

A day after being discovered, the site was hacked to re-direct every visitor to a YouTube video. Soon after, it went offline completely.

Copyright: BBC technology

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